On July 16, a Turkish C-130E Hercules military transport aircraft landed in al-Watiya Air Base, marking the first direct flight from Turkey to the western Libyan base.
The C-130E, which belong to the 222nd Squadron of the Turkish Air Forces’ Air Logistical Command took off from the military section of Konya Airport in northern Turkey. The aircraft landed in al-Watiya in the morning.
⚠️Turkish Air Force lands directly at Al Watiya AFB ! Turkish Air Force’s Erkilet based turboprop transport planes, 221st Squadron A400 17080 flew from Istanbul to Misrata & 222nd Squadron’s Lockheed C130 Hercules 711468 flew from Konya to Al Watiya. pic.twitter.com/4YOm4Mfxpm
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) July 16, 2020
A day later, a second Turkish military transport aircraft, also a C-130E, landed in al-Watiya Air Base. The aircraft followed exactly the same path as the first one.
Next morning, a second 🇹🇷Turkish Air Force C-130E Hercules flight approached 🇱🇾🇹🇷Al-Wattiyah/Al-Wutiyah Air Base in 🇱🇾#Libya a near identical manner. https://t.co/lWbcmH9Tg9 pic.twitter.com/7ddr6Ard8l
— Gerjon | חריון (@Gerjon_) July 17, 2020
The Turkish military has been working to restore al-Watiya Air Base since last May, when it was captured by forces loyal to the Government of National Accord from the Libyan National Army. The base sustained damage in the battle.
Earlier this month, a series of pinpoint airstrikes destroyed a Turkish air-defense and electronic warfare systems which were recently deployed in the air base.
Turkey is reportedly working to turn al-Watiya into a permanent base for its troops in Libya. This may mean that Ankara is planning to deploy fighter jets and more military equipment at the base.
It remains unclear if al-Watiya can, as for now, host fighter jets. C-130 were designed to take off and land in unprepared runways. Fighter jets, like Turkey’s F-16s, can’t do this. The air base will likely need much more work to host such warplanes.